Monthly Archives: September 2011

Farmer’s Cheese with basil

In honor of back to school, I’ve decided to cook the alphabet.  A little A-Z of recipe goodness.  Today’s post is brought to you by the letter F. Stay tuned for the rest to come.

Finished Farmer's Cheese

CSA mini-workshop number two was on making homemade cheese.  When it was announced, I thought it would be interesting, but I wasn’t sure how much I would really use it at home.  But never one to miss a learning opportunity, I was first to arrive again.

Let's eat.

The woman who taught it had lived on several organic dairy farms and had made all types of cheeses.  She was a wonderful resource for questions and ideas and, of course, I took full advantage.  We focused only on soft cheeses in order to complete the entire process (including prep, cooking, and taste testing) in under an hour and a half.  We made two soft cheeses: a farmer’s cheese and ricotta.

Bringing the heat.

It’s incredibly simple, like silly simple.  I actually could be heard saying a bit too loudly, “It’s that easy?  You’re kidding!”  The basic idea is to separate the curds from the whey.  Though the method is very simple, there are plenty of opportunities to make the recipe your own, starting with your choice of dairy.  Animal (cow, goat, etc), diet (grass fed, grain, etc), and fat content are all important factors that influence the flavor.

Separating the curds from the whey Miss Muffet style.

The process of making Farmer’s Cheese starts by heating the milk, removing it from heat, and then adding an acid.  The acid causes the curds (fats) from the whey.  The choice of acid will influence the final flavor and can add to the overall flavor profile.  I chose to use fresh lemon juice because I like the light freshness it adds to the flavor, and went with a less is more philosophy as far as volume.  If you don’t get good separation, you can always add more.

Strain carefully! Mixture is VERY hot!

The firmness of the cheese will depend on how long you strain it.  For a drier, more crumbly cheese, strain the cheese longer.  Once you are done straining, additional flavor can be added with fresh herbs or flavored salts. It’s perfect for ravioli filling or just spread on a good piece of crusty bread.  It’s so fresh and simple, and it tastes like nothing you buy in the store.  And eating it warm is pretty awesome too.

All strained and ready for flavoring

Farmer’s Cheese

For this demo:
2 cups whole milk
1+1/2 tbsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
1 leaf basil, chiffonade
Heat milk to 140°F with gentle stirring.  Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes or until there is a distinct separation between the curds and the whey.  Strain through cheese cloth, using a mesh strainer to support the cloth.  Be very careful, as the mixture will be extremely hot (trust me, I have the blisters to prove it).  Hang cloth (or wring gently) to remove excess moister.  Once desired firmness is obtained, stir in salt and other flavors.  Consume immediately or store in the refrigerator for a few days.  Cheese does not contain preservatives, so use the sniff test to check for freshness.

Edamame Succotash

In honor of back to school, I’ve decided to cook the alphabet.  A little A-Z of recipe goodness.  Today’s post is brought to you by the letter E. Stay tuned for the rest to come.

Mini's favorite green vegetable

One of the biggest challenges in feeding any mini human is getting them to eat their veggies, and Mini Sous Chef is no different.  Kettle and I are always trying to devise new veggie containing options that will please her peculiar palatte.  She is an odd one sometimes.  She loves miso soup with extra tofu, but won’t touch peanut butter with a ten foot pole.  But there are a few vegetables that she will gobble up, including edamame and corn.  This led Kettle and I to attempt to develop an Edamame Succotash this summer worthy of Mini Sous Chef’s attention.  We thought we’d come up with an idea that she’d love.  However, even though she liked all of the ingredients individually, she unfortunately didn’t like the salad.  At all.

Sweet Summer Corn

But Kettle and I sure loved it. So with a little extra tweaking, it became a mainstay of our summer salad rotation.  Not only is it simple to prep and easy to scale up, but it is also quite healthy and flavorful.  It features one of my favorite summer veggies, sweet corn, and utilizes my favorite summer cooking method, grilling (which can be substituted with broiling in the event of rain or lack of grill).  It makes a great side dish, salad for a cookout, or quick lunch out of the refrigerator.  It’s lovely eaten hot or cold.  The ingredient list is flexible and the ratios can be changed to favor items you like more or less. Below is the combination we thought worked best.

Edamame Succotash

Edamame Succotash

1/2 bag of shelled edamame (about 6 oz), drained

1 medium red pepper

4 ears of corn, still in husks (can use frozen, roasted corn from the cob)

3 tbsp Green Onion tops (green ends), thinly sliced

2+1/2 tbsp Olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

To roast the red pepper, grill (or broil) the red pepper whole, until skin is slightly charred on all sides. Remove the peppers from the grill and allow them to cool. Peel and dice the peppers and set them aside. Skin should peel away easily after roasting.  Remove silk from corn and wet down husks with a quick rinse in water.  Roast ears on grill or in oven (400 F) for about 20 minutes until husks are browned, turning several times.  Let corn cool, remove husks, and cut corn from cob (To add some additional flavor, grill the ears of corn for a few minutes to char slightly). Heat olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat.  Saute green onions for 2-3 minutes, until they begin to soften.  Add diced red pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes more.  Mix in corn and continue to saute 2 minutes.  Add edamame and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm or cold.